Driving Force

When you live in an area like mine with lots of distance between school and home and the stores along with almost no public transport, getting your driver’s license is one of those major milestones for a teenager. Both MC and BG had circumstances that pushed back their ability to take their test on or near their 16th birthdays, but they did finally get them.

Yesterday afternoon, I had to watch as BG drove off on her own for the first time, driving herself to her first assistant class of the year. Even though it was well past when she should have been able to do this (by the end of last winter), I still wasn’t quite ready for it.

I’m relieved that I no longer have to sit for an hour or more in my car in the parking lot while she does her dance classes. At the same time, I’m really going to miss the time we spent together along the way. It is just one more step towards her being grown up and gone.

It has been hard enough with MC off to college, even though he comes home almost every weekend. He is finding his feet there and settling in more comfortably. He’s volunteered to do the intro videos for all the esports teams, something he really loves and is excited about. He even played in an intramural tournament for one of the games over the weekend.

With BG driving now, she isn’t all that far behind him in stretching her own wings of independence.

Even though this is something that does make me sad, I’m still really happy for her. I remember what it was like to finally get to that point and it is something that both Hubby and I have worked really hard to make sure she got there. I was adamant that our kids would be able to drive as soon as possible and we would do whatever needed to be done to make that happen.

A big part of that is because when I needed to learn, I didn’t have that support and teaching. At least, not from my parents.

For me to get my license, I had to have my boyfriend at the time and his best friend taking me out and teaching me. Having someone that wasn’t yet even 18 teaching someone to drive is not really a great idea, but it is all I had.

This is something that I still, to this day, don’t fully understand. My older brother was learning before he was 16 (something that wasn’t even entirely legal at the time) and my dad took time off work and my brother out of school (a huge thing as my parents NEVER took us out of school) on his 16th birthday to take the test. But me? I had to have that boyfriend take me to get my permit so I could even learn, but it was the only test I could take without a parent. The driving test piece I had to wait until one my parents could find a convenient time (pretty sure it was a day off they had already planned) and a day where I wouldn’t miss school.

Now that I’m on the other end of things, I still don’t understand the mindset. I get that my family has a couple of freighters worth of issues, but I have seen and heard similar things in others. Yes, money is always going to be a factor because driving isn’t cheap, but I’m talking outside of that.

Whether it is teaching them to drive, or hobbling them when it comes to going off to college or really anything where kids are learning to follow their path to their future and happiness, I will never understand parents that try to clip their kid’s wings rather than helping them to fly.

Do parents not get that once those kids finally do learn to fly, and there is no stopping it, that they may choose to never come back if the damage is bad enough?

I’ve now got one that isn’t quite gone, but has one foot out the door and the other is standing behind the first waiting for her turn. It makes me sad to see that we are here already, but I won’t do anything to stand in their way.

Strawberries Round Two

The strawberry plants I bought for BG look like they are going to put on another round of strawberries now that we are starting to cool off again. She only got maybe half a dozen the first round, so she is really excited to see a berry again.

It was a fun experiment that I’m going to expand for her if I can manage it. I’m going to make sure she has more than just a couple of plants next year. Ones that have their own little bed instead of struggling in a pot. I’d really love to give her enough space for a lot of these, I just haven’t quite worked out the logistics of doing so.

For now, it looks like the ones in the pot are still doing well enough and I have time to figure out how to give her more.

Cold, Rainy, And Dreary

I could really do without this nasty cold snap. Pretty sure this entire week is breaking records on the low temps. Mother Nature really doesn’t need to take those records as challenges to break them. She definitely doesn’t need to work so hard to break so many at once. It really isn’t helping me stay out of cranky pants mode.

Between the cold, the rain and the general time of year, I’m struggling to find good photo subjects or the motivation to go find them.

Black & White Daylily Stamen

Yesterday was probably the most bizarre first day of school I’ve ever seen. It was weird enough having BG at home, but the weather felt like a cold Halloween night, making everything feel completely out of sync.

We shattered previous records by something like 10 degrees. No, 56 isn’t exactly cold, but for a high temp during the first part of September and the day after hitting near 90, it felt frigid. I threatened to turn the heat on last night (didn’t, but came damn close.) I don’t know that I’ve ever turned the heat on this close to the beginning of September. The very end of the month, maybe, but not anywhere near the beginning.

Today isn’t going to be any warmer and it is rainy and dreary on top of it. That isn’t very conducive to motivating me to do anything other than snuggle down with a book and a pot of coffee.

Bumpy Beginning

I really didn’t expect things to go smoothly when school started this year. It doesn’t normally, so why would I expect this year to be better than normal? The fact that it has not, in fact, started smoothly shouldn’t be a surprise.

Today is the first day of BG’s junior year. She is going to be doing it all online for at least this first semester. As of today, she still has one class that is wrong (both the teacher of the correct class and the counselor are working to correct the issue) and a class that she has gotten zero communication from. All of her other classes, the teachers have sent emails and links to the online classrooms they are using, so we have no clue what is up with the one.

The messed up class is tied to BG’s mentoring program. She has to be in that class to be in the program. This particular piece has been so weird because the program is designed around interacting in person with the Freshman specifically so they are still scrambling to try and figure out what that looks like for their online learners. She still doesn’t know what she is going to be doing with that.

Considering everything going on, I really can’t complain too much. It is going to be really interesting to see how well all of this plays out moving forward. It is going to be a very weird year.

 

Lemon Tree Progress

Remember all those lemon trees I sprouted last year?

Baby Lemon Trees
Baby Lemon Trees

I’m slowly but surely getting mini-trees out of them.

I am down to only 5 of the original 14 or so that sprouted. I had a couple of pots that the plants just refused to grow in and others that just never got healthy. Of those 5, only two have grown nice and tall and look really healthy. In the other group of three, two have still stayed small and one that has gotten taller, but the leaves look like they are struggling. The fact that I still have any at all is shocking, so I’m just giddy.

Today I transplanted them from the pots they were in (some were sharing a pot) into bigger ones to give them more room and to, hopefully, allow those that don’t look as good to get a little more breathing space.

I also just realized today that lemon trees apparently have thorns. I had no clue that was a thing.

The one that is really thriving the best (top image) is now about 10 inches tall. The other one that is also doing well is only a couple inches shorter. I may still lose the smaller ones, but I’m hoping the transplant today will help their chances. The fact I haven’t killed them yet is amazing!

Shape Of Water Series #19

This is going to be the last one in this series. I could easily post another half dozen or more, but I’ve posted my favorites now and the others are similar enough to not be quite so unique even if they are still amazing.

I’ve had a blast with these, though. The fact that so many of these all look so different, but the basic source, that push through water creating a wave, is the same is incredible.

Even more incredible is the fact that it is only that single basic source producing such a huge variety. The fact that water does so many different things under different conditions is endlessly fascinating.

I’ve realized over the years that I’m really very much a water baby kind of person and that experiencing water in all it’s various different forms and behaviors is soothing to my soul.

Sunset Clouds and Reflections

I nearly missed this brilliant display last night. I managed to run out, nab these few shots and then the colors were already beginning to fade. While the colors were at their peak, they were just stunningly vivid. If I hadn’t looked outside when I did, I would have completely missed it.

Water Reflection of Orangey Pink Clouds At Sunset
Water Reflection of Orangey Pink Clouds At Sunset
Orangey Pink Clouds At Sunset
Orangey Pink Clouds At Sunset
Water Reflection of Orangey Pink Clouds At Sunset
Water Reflection of Orangey Pink Clouds At Sunset

Amazon Suckage As An Author

I’ve mentioned struggles in the past with being an indie author. I’ve even talked a little bit about my experiences with advertising specifically on Amazon. I’m now discovering another lovely and not often mentioned little beauty (oh, so NOT) that is the beast of Amazon. Ranking and search results.

Or, to be more accurate, the lack of the ability to even appear in a search result if you drop too low in the rankings.

I had seen in the last month or so that my book wouldn’t show in the results unless you added my author name to the book title. That was a little frustrating, especially when some of the results that popped when just searching the title alone had absolutely nothing at all to do with the search terms. Now, you cannot find my book at all by searching title and author. Not even WAY down a list anywhere.

It is still very much a live, active listing. I’d even gotten a few KU reads in the last month thanks to a twitter post by a blogging group (seriously, THANK YOU for the mention!!) My overall rankings are now exceptionally low, which is something that happens if you aren’t getting constant sales and reviews, and that apparently means that people can’t even find my book when they are specifically looking for it. And we aren’t even discussing the fact that it won’t show up as a suggested read anywhere unless I pay for advertising or I get over 25 reviews on Amazon (at least that is the magic number I’ve seen tossed around).

I really don’t get it. Amazon makes money off my book when I do. A lot more than I do for the paperback, but they won’t even show it in a search result when you look specifically for that title AND my author name?! That is some straight up bullshit right there.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that Amazon also owns Goodreads and between the two, I have at least that 25 threshold of unique reviews, but they don’t actually work together like that. Or the fact that the only way to place an ad on Amazon for a book (at least the ebook) you have to be exclusive through the KU program, meaning it cannot be on any other platform and that the ads I’ve done so far have only ever helped my rankings, but did squat for any kind of actual profit because they are expensive.

I get it. I only have the one book out there and authors succeed mostly through return readers. The more books you have, the better chance at success you have, the better chance you are going to get seen. The problem is that it is already massively difficult to get eyes on your book with all the competition out there and Amazon’s apparent policy of refusing to even pop a search result when someone is actually looking for it is mind boggling. I honestly don’t have a clue how that even makes good business sense.

I’d even get it if they had some sort of a stated expiration policy for delisting a product after a specified time frame for inactivity, but I’ve not found anything anywhere that states this. I just tripped across the fact that I’m not showing up at all by accident. AND I’ve gotten KU reads, so it has had activity.

So, fair warning to anyone looking to publish through Amazon. There are some definite perks to it, but there are also a lot of hidden downsides to it too. It is hard to say if it is worth it or not as every single sale I’ve made has been through them with the exception of one library purchase early on before it moved it to Amazon exclusively. Those downside are exponentially greater when you are a massive introvert like me that cannot stand to push my stuff in front of people’s faces constantly.

If you feel like giving the middle finger to Amazon on my behalf and want to buy my book, An Unexpected Turn, or read it for free through KU, please feel more than free to do so. Or you can go with the two year old version of the middle finger, sticking your tongue out at them, by sharing that direct link to my book with others.

Now I’m going to grumble some about greedy bastards and then bury my nose in a book to try and decompress.